Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[MLE] Article: Multilingual Education in India: Myth and Reality

Dear Multilingual Education friends,


Samir Karmakar and Kinnari Pandya of the Azim Premji University, Bangalore published an article on Multilingual Education in India: Myth and Reality in which they plead to give more attention to the context:
Any approach towards MLE is bound to fail if the stated form of the policy lacks an understanding of what is being aspired by the population with reference to the Indian languages which is often being decided by various economical and historical factors. Therefore, understanding the linguistic culture in India becomes a must.
Very often the success and failure of a policy depends on the implicit, unofficial, unwritten, de facto aspect of what we call public opinion. Therefore, it becomes quintessential to understand the linguistic culture of the population to achieve the stated goals of the policy documents. This includes an in-depth investigation into the ideas, values, beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, myths, religious strictures, and all the cultural baggage that we bring to our dealings with language from our culture.
They argue that multilingual teaching should also be done in the higher grades:
This approach of gradual replacement of the non-dominant forms of linguistic communication by the dominant ones only widens the linguistic divide in India and will leave India as fertile ground for intolerance defeating the agenda of promoting cultural pluralism.


Since higher education is the avenue to institutional recognition and establishment, we should create opportunities of learning through the mother tongue unlike the various proposals of structural and gradual replacement of multilingualism by a monolingual world order.
A key quote is:
Success of MLE in India, then, primarily rests on mobilizing the public spheres rather than suggesting solutions only to the school teachers and government officials. More specifically, introducing MLE in India expects the involvement of parents in the dynamics of teaching-learning process.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[MLE] Article in Guardian "Language exodus reshapes India's schools"

Dear MultiLingual Education friends,

The Guardian had last week an article on the role of English in the Indian education system. A few quotes:
"More and more across India, parents are forsaking educating their kids in their mother tongue in favour of English. Despite warnings from educationalists that a child's cognitive development is affected by early schooling in an unfamiliar language, there has been an exponential increase during the last decade in English-medium schools in the country.
The latest data compiled by the National University of Education, Planning and Administration (NUEPA) shows that the number of children studying in English-medium schools has increased by a staggering 274% between 2003 and 2011, to over 20 million students."


"When the standard of teaching in a regional language school is good, the difference becomes apparent. "In India, teaching of languages is generally very outdated, no matter which language," said Anita Rampal, professor of education at Delhi University. "But a study we did in Delhi showed that students who began learning in Hindi for the first five years in a school that taught language well showed the ability later to think independently and write creatively in both Hindi and English.""

"Cultural theorist Rita Kothari pointed out that English and regional languages contain different "storehouses of knowledge", both of which are essential for a student. English provides a wealth of modern ideas and historical understanding. "But without regional languages, the richness of the landscape will get flattened," she said."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

[MLE] ASER education report 2011 for the first time includes language data


Dear Multilingual Education friends,
ASER does each year an independent assessment of the status of primary education in the country. ASER 2011 reached 558 districts, 16,017 villages, 327,372 households and 633,465 children. This year I somehow missed reporting on it in January. Here is a key finding you might find interesting:
Nationally, reading levels are estimated to have declined in many states across North India. The All India figure for the proportion of children in Std V able to read a Std 2 level text has dropped from 53.7% in 2010 to 48.2% in 2011. Such declines are not visible in the southern states.
However for this mailing list the most interesting thing is that this year for the first time the survey included a question on language:. The instructions read: “ Ask the child or any adult in the household which language is spoken at home, by the family members” (Full instructions copied below.) The summary of the result is:
A quarter of all rural children attend primary schools where the medium of instruction is different from their home language
I looked at the data per state. Some interesting figures:

STATE Home Language is Different From School Language (%)
Nagaland 100%
Chhattisgarh 99%
Manipur 98%
Arunachal Pradesh 96%
Jammu & Kashmir 95%
Himachal Pradesh 89%
Rajasthan 77%
Uttarkhand 67%
Jharkhand 61%
Bihar 53%
(The full table is given below)

Friday, April 6, 2012

[MLE] Report on the MLE bridging workshop at Bangkok

Dear MLE friends,

Out of the 80 participants from 20 countries 4 people from India attended the Workshop on Bridging Between Languages in Mother Tongue-Based Bilingual/Multilingual Education in Bangkok last month.

The India participants were from Guwahati University (Dr Anita Tamuli & Prafulla Basumatari), Promotion & Advocacy for Justice, Harmony & Rights for Adivasis, PAJHRA (Luke Horo) and Center for Tribal Culture and Art Society (Ft Mahipal Bhuriya).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

[MLE] NCERT Evaluation Report on MLE Project Orissa


Dear Multilingual Education Friends,
The evaluation report by NCERT's Department of Elementary Education on the Orissa MultiLingual Education projects under SSA/OPEPA is now available on-line at the TCF-SSA website*. These are some highlights from the summary:
  • Overall, results suggested that children in MLE schools (treatment group) received significantly higher achievement scores than children in non-MLE schools (comparison group). However, scores for several Tribal languages showed that students of non-MLE schools did as well or even slightly better than students of MLE schools.
  • Other positive impacts noted by the stakeholders included: increased self-respect and self-confidence among children; increased interest in school; increased participation in learning; and increased use of the tribal languages. There were also perceived changes in enrolment, better retention rates, and lower drop-out rates in Multilingual Education programme schools due to the programme intervention; however, there were some variations according to tribal language.
  • The positive unintended outcomes of the program identified included improved relationships among teachers and among students and increased motivation and eagerness among students.
  • Unintended negative outcomes identified included increased drop-out rates for children from other castes, reduced participation of disabled children and a preference for the Oriya language over the mother-tongue.
  • A systematic method of monitoring of schools needs to be developed. The monitoring and supervision needs to be an ongoing process from State/District/Block and Cluster Resource Centres.

Friday, March 23, 2012

[MLE] Article "Linguistic imperialism alive and kicking"

Dear Multilingual Education friends,

The British Council, as well as some US agencies,  are active in south Asia and other places promoting the use of the English language in the classroom. A recent article by Robert Phillipson in The Guardian titled "Linguistic imperialism alive and kicking"  is criticising this as "undermining multilingualism and education opportunities". Some quotes:

The myth is the belief that studying English is all you need for success in life. Policies influenced by this myth prevent most children from accessing relevant education.

Is Anglo-American expertise really relevant in all such contexts? In fact educational "aid" worldwide does not have a strong record of success. There is scholarly evidence, for instance from Spain, that primary English is not an unmitigated success story: quite the opposite.

Governments have tended to clutch at a quick fix, such as importing native speakers, or starting English ever earlier, either as a subject or as the medium of instruction, in the hope that this will make the learning of English more effective. Such demands should be challenged by ELT when both the demand and the response are unlikely to be educationally, culturally or linguistically well-informed.

As many states in India are pushing for English,  this is a very relevant debate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

[MLE] A critical report on the RTE progress

Dear MLE friends,

In April it will be two years since the the Right to Education (RTE) Act was introduced. Forward Press Magazine published a critical article on the progress made thus far:  A Fundamental Wrong: Education for too Few.

The author, Suzana Andrade, makes an interesting comparison with Finland were they also implemented a major education transform several years back: "In 1971, Finland's government realised that the only way to modernise its economy and compete in an increased competitive world was to transform its basic education. According to a recent article in The Atlantic magazine, the secret to Finland's success is that the goal they pursued was not excellence, but equity". On India: "Today, though the policies and rhetoric have changed, the underlying worldview remains: our society continues to prioritise a few and exclude the rest".